Title at my school book fair that I think some sixth graders would enjoy. This one is about a special ops mission to take out some Somalian pirates. G...moreTitle at my school book fair that I think some sixth graders would enjoy. This one is about a special ops mission to take out some Somalian pirates. Graphic novel style art is included at intervals. There was one obvious typo. While there is obviously violence as it is a military mission story, it is not depicted in lots of gore.(less)
R.J. Palacio has created an amazing, heart-wrenching book in Wonder that will leave you cheering in the end for Auggie and the family he forms around...moreR.J. Palacio has created an amazing, heart-wrenching book in Wonder that will leave you cheering in the end for Auggie and the family he forms around him. Told in eight voices ranging from Auggie to his sister's first high school boyfriend, Wonder is the story of one boy's first year of middle school. This is a book that must be shared.
Starting middle school is rough. New kids, new classes, new places to get lost, and new people to make fun of you. Auggie is taken to his new middle school weeks before the new year begins to meet Mr. Tushman, the principal of Beecher Prep. Once there, Auggie is upset to learn that he's not only meeting the principal but that there are students there to show him around. Jack Will, Julian and Charlotte are all incoming fifth graders. They're all supposed to be nice kids, at least according to their lower grade teachers and they've been at Beecher Prep since they were in kindergarten. Yet only Charlotte can meet Auggie's eyes without looking down afterwards. Julian goes out of his way to avoid touching Auggie and keeps watching him out of the corner of his eyes.
The strange looks are nothing new, even though Auggie's never been to school before. Twenty-seven surgeries, his size and other medical complications kept him homeschooled at home with his mother until the start of fifth grade. Now that the next surgery is a few years away, Auggie's mother wants him to start attending school. Auggie's worried how the other kids will react to him. On the inside, Auggie feels like an ordinary kid, but kids have run away at the sight of him before.
Auggie's fifth grade journey has its dark moments filled with pain, such as Halloween when he overhears a friend say he only hangs out with Auggie because a teacher asked him or when the family dog becomes gravely ill. It has its brilliant moments, such as when Summer sits down beside August at lunch that very first day when no one else will.
I loved getting inside the head of so many people in Auggie's life and seeing why they behaved the way they did. Jack Will's chapters brought new light on what had happened earlier and brought home what it felt like to have a school turn on him after he stood up to Julian. Via's chapters rang with love for her brother but also with her shamed desire to not be defined by him. One of my favorite sections in this book came from Justin, Via's boyfriend. He didn't even know about Auggie until the third date. Even though Olivia prepped him for the first meeting, Justin is surprised by what he sees in August. He's determined to make things work out. That isn't what endears Justin to me as a reader. Rather it is how Justin is accepted by Auggies family and how that acceptance eases his tics. It's in how this awkward musical boy decides to help Jack and Auggie. One of the most surprising set of chapters came from Via's former close friend Miranda because it showed how much one girl wanted a family like Via's even with all it's difficulties.
The characters laugh and cry their way off the pages in Wonder. The adults and children all have foibles. Some are terribly flawed. All of them are alive. The nature retreat at the end and its aftermath are riveting, an unforgettable emotional roller coaster in a wonder of a book.
I enjoyed Moxy's way of relating her life at the beginning of this book. The style wore on me by the end but maybe that was because I was listening wh...moreI enjoyed Moxy's way of relating her life at the beginning of this book. The style wore on me by the end but maybe that was because I was listening when I was in the wrong mood.(less)
"Well, it's nothing like Milwaukee, that's for sure."
Twelve-year-old Raine couldn't agree more with Mama on that. Sparrow Road's nothing like the city...more"Well, it's nothing like Milwaukee, that's for sure."
Twelve-year-old Raine couldn't agree more with Mama on that. Sparrow Road's nothing like the city she calls home. Taken away from her summer at Grandpa Mac's store where Raine helps stack shelves with treats for eight weeks in a strange place where her mom will cook and clean, Raine is frustrated with everything about the place that has uprooted her.
It doesn't help that there are only five other people on the property of Sparrow Road, an aging mansion that is home to a summer artists retreat. It definitely doesn't help that six days of the week talking isn't allowed until supper time. There's no tv, no radio, no music. Sparrow Road's owner, Viktor Berglund, is unbending on these rules, rules that Raine knew nothing about until her arrival. Her mother won't tell why she took the job at Sparrow Road and won't let Raine go with on their visits to town.
Parts of that first day at Sparrow Road feel like a disaster. She's asked about her dad, someone she knows nothing about. A writer embarrasses Raine's mom and makes it clear that children' aren't welcome. Raine has an out. Grandpa Mac promised to come get her if she called even if they are now ten hours ride apart. If only Raine knew where a phone might be at Sparrow Road.
It's elderly Lillian's first visit with Raine that reveals Sparrow Road's past. The old woman's questions about other children don't make sense to Raine, nor do her references to the mansion as home. It takes a tour from a big, friendly, laughing artist named Diego to make Lillian's stories clear. Sparrow Road was an orphanage. Their toys, colors and forgotten things still clutter the attic. Now Raine has two mysteries to solve--the orphans' past and her mother's decision to move to the retreat for the summer.
What if? What was? Or what could be? These are the questions Diego encourages Raine to write about in her time at Sparrow Road. These questions help give the long gone orphans a voice and help Raine find her own.
Sparrow Road is the beautifully written story of what it means to be left and the mark that leaves. It's a story of family, the one people are born with and the ones that they make.
I received my copy free from the publisher at the AASL convetion.(less)
Mattie Breen's used to moving and leaving things behind. Her mom doesn't like owning more than can fit comfortably inside a pickup truck. At least thi...moreMattie Breen's used to moving and leaving things behind. Her mom doesn't like owning more than can fit comfortably inside a pickup truck. At least this time the two of them are moving to a place where there's someone she likes-her Uncle Potluck.
Uncle Potluck is the custodian at the school where Mattie will soon be starting fifth grade. She's hoping he'll help her out with her plan. Mattie wants to be a custodial apprentice. Then she won't have to deal with lunch or recess. She won't have to deal with the other kids and not fitting in.
When her mom gives her a new notebook, Mattie uses it to take notes on how custodians do their job. She wants to get it all done to show that she can help Uncle Potluck. She's not going to use it write stories--not after fourth grade, though Mattie's not about to tell her mom that she no longer writes them.
Mattie's not just worried about the start of school. She's also worried about Quincy. Quincy is the niece of the lady next door. Mattie's mom is convinced Quiny would be a great friend for Mattie, but Mattie's positive the other girl is far too cool for her.
Linda Urban masterfully spins the story of a painfully shy girl, a girl who keeps her words close. It's a quiet story of learning how to unfold again and take a chance. Uncle Potluck is hilarious and I could identify so much with Mattie. I look forward to sharing this book with my fourth grade students.
I won't spoil it, but I loved Mattie's final words in this book. (less)